All I want for Christmas is...

Oh joy.

It’s that time of year again and we have to go through the whole goodwill to all men business when what we really want to scream, rip up large quantities of wrapping paper and form a pyre, build a tower of crackers on top, and dance round it chanting the ancient incantation “Bah humbug!”

Of course, we are too polite and nice to let it show – no one wants to be a Scrooge – and so we smile, hang tinsel and buy food and drink we barely touch any other time of year (Wensleydale cheese with fig; mincemeat, chocolate liqueurs, sprouts, Baileys, advocaat, Babycham, ginger ale, sweet sherry, Cointreau-flavoured cream, hic).

There is an element of mass hysteria about Christmas spending. All of a sudden, after 11-months of happily buying shelled nuts, in December we need to have them in their original shells. Nothing else will do.

If only I had the courage of my conviction that Christmas is over-commercialised and cynically induces you to make you buy stuff you don’t need, like a chocolate log.

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Every Christmas for 30 years, I have acknowledged that we never eat chocolate Yule log.

Each year my husband reminds me we don’t eat it and each year I agree that we won’t get one. Then the red, green and gold mist descends and I get one half price. I can’t help it. It wouldn’t be Christmas if we didn’t throw away an uneaten chocolate log in mid-January.

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I’ve noticed that, this year, some of the chocolate logs have an additional little branch off the main trunk... not that I shall be buying one, of course.

The high street needs a good Christmas and I almost feel it is a public duty to put as much money as possible into the economy, to encourage financial recovery. There are some startlingly good offers on many, many items I don’t need.

By giving myself a patriotic cause I can forgive myself for starting the seasonal shop before Thanksgiving. In any event, my half-hearted resolution to hold off for another fortnight dissipated the moment I saw Debenhams department store was open till 11pm.

After panto rehearsal (I am Black-eyed Bess the piratical sidekick, ooo-arr, ooo-arr, ooo-arr) we drove into town, parked the car and went shopping. It was about 9.45pm.

On the odd occasion we have shopped late in 24-hour supermarkets but this was our first High Street excursion at bedtime.

It felt as if we were breaking in to burgle the place.

It was unnaturally quiet and, as I rummaged through the bargains, I fully expected someone to tap me on the shoulder and take me away for a thorough frisking. But no such luck.

We ended up with another 12 Christmas crackers – to add to the 36 we have already stashed away.

You can’t have too many crackers, my husband says, although, personally, I think one household only needs so many tiny screwdrivers.

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